There are several opportunities to get out in nature this weekend. This Saturday and Sunday is the Prescott’s Great Outdoors – Outdoor Recreation Festival and Expo at Watson Lake Park. The expo showcases the latest equipment for enjoying the outdoors, with a large educational emphasis. Saturday at 9 a.m., I will be the first speaker in a series of educational clinics that are scheduled each hour. My presentation will be an introduction into the hobby of bird-watching with a specific focus on the tools of bird-watching: binoculars, spotting scopes and field guides.
Last year when I participated in this event, as I was teaching my class, a very cooperative roadrunner came up right behind me (I could not have scripted this) and gave all of the class participants a great look! That will be hard to top this year.
The Outdoor Recreation Festival highlights the many outdoor and water-based recreational opportunities, organizations, retailers, equipment and resources that are here in the Prescott area. This is a family-oriented event with music, food, vendors, clinics and demonstrations, recreational activities and displays. I hope to see you there.
Also on Saturday, the Prescott Audubon Society will be hosting a free guided bird walk at 8 a.m. at the Highlands Center for Natural History on Walker Road. The bird walk is open to the public – just show up. Binoculars, warm clothes, water and a hat are recommended.
I was in Missouri this past week attending a trade show for backyard wild bird and nature stores. Each day before and after the event, I squeezed in some bird-watching, and was delighted to see more than 60 species.
The one sighting that thrilled me the most was seeing a pileated woodpecker – the largest woodpecker species in North America. I saw six different woodpecker species on my trip, which is an indication of the type of habitat I was in – hardwood deciduous forest. In addition to the pileated woodpecker, I saw red-headed, red-bellied, hairy and downy woodpecker, and the yellow-shafted race of the northern flicker.
I always enjoy the opportunity to go bird-watching in a different part of the country. Being in a completely different habitat than what we have here in central Arizona affords me the opportunity so see different birds. While I didn’t add any new species to my life list, I enjoyed seeing many species that I haven’t seen in a long time such as chimney swift, common nighthawk and Carolina wren.
As of last week, the weather in Missouri was much warmer than it has been here. A lot of insect-eating bird species were still present, indicating the area had not yet experienced freezing temperatures. Here in Prescott, the frost has already killed my vegetable garden!
As a reminder, our fifth annual wild bird photography contest exhibit continues through Oct. 21. This year’s collection of pictures is truly amazing. Most years, the exhibit is dominated by hummingbird, hawk and owl pictures. This year’s collection is more diverse than we have seen in previous years.
I invite you to come see the exhibit and vote for your favorite pictures. There are over 150 entries this year, and, believe me, it is very challenging to settle on a first, second, third place, and an honorable mention. The exhibit is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Sunday.